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Breeds of Livestock, Department of Animal Science

Breeds of Livestock - Swiss Black-Brown Mountain Sheep

Breeds of Livestock - Swiss Black-Brown Mountain Sheep

Swiss Black-Brown Mountain

swissblackbrown-1.jpgAlso Known By: (Ger.) Schwarzbraunes Bergschaf or Gebirgsschaf, (Fr.) Brun noir du pays or des alpes or des montagnes

The Swiss Black-Brown Mountain originates from the ancient Swiss breeds Jura, Simmentaler, Saanen, Frutiger, Roux de Bagnes and Freiburger. Frutig sheep are already known from records of the 14th Century. Their coarse, mainly white wool was quite important for the home industry producing the famous Frutig cloth. In the beginning of the 19th Century Flemish Landrace sheep were crossed in and Spanish Black Merinos around 50 years later. Another ancestor, the Roux de Bagnes, was a small-framed, compact, easily satisfied and hardy hill breed. 1941 the breed description Black-Brown Mountain sheep was created and the various breeds were made uniform. The mutual flock book for black and brown varieties dates from 1979. Today this breed is raised mainly in Switzerland (Freibrug, Bern, Jura, Luzern and Zurich). In Austria the first flock of Swiss Black-Brown Mountain was introduced under the name Jura sheep by the shepherds of Long Mai, wandering 1977 all the way from the Bernish Jura to Carinthia.

The Swiss Black-Brown Mountain is a polled, medium-sized sheep, deep and broad. The coat color is either black, chestnut colored or light brown. Head and legs are clear of wool, covered with short black or brown hairs. The head is well carried, the face is fine, long with straight profile and bright eyes. The ears are of medium length, horizontally placed and pointing slightly forward.

The fleece of the Swiss Black-Brown Mountain is of single-colour, thick and close-cropped. Due to the Merino ancestry the wool is fine and strong and is remarkable for its strength and elasticity. No kemp or white fibers are allowed.

Withers height: ram 75 - 82 cm, ewe 68 - 74 cm,
live weight: ram 80 - 120 kilos, ewe 65 - 90 kilos.

swissblackbrown-2.jpgThe Swiss Black-Brown Mountain is a quite docile, easy to handle sheep. It is very adaptable, thriving under a wide range of conditions and climate. This breed is the most fertile type of mountain sheep. The ewes lamb quite often twice a year and have 1,7 lambs in average per birth, thus making them an ideal mother race for crossings with meat producing rams. The ewes are deep milking and dedicated mothers. Swiss Black-Brown Mountain rams are hardworking and fertile.

For 1999 the statistics show 35 % singles, 53 % twins, 11% triplets, 1 % quadruples and quintuples.

Swiss Black-Brown Mountain lambs both purebred or crossings kill out significantly better than for instance the Tyrol Mountain. The bone is light, with a commendable meat to bone ratio. The meat is rich in color and of particularly good flavor and texture.

Breeding Organizations

Schweizerischer Schafzuchtverband, CH-3360 Herzogenbuchsee
SBS Vereinigung Schweiz, CH-1786 Sugiez
Verein zur Zucht und Förderung des Schwarzbraunen Bergschafes
in Österreich, A-6800 Feldkirch,


    Marianne Klauser, A-6800 Feldkirch

    Mason, I.L. 1996. A World Dictionary of Livestock Breeds, Types and Varieties. Fourth Edition. C.A.B International. 273 pp.


    Marianne Klauser, A-6800 Feldkirch,


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added February 27, 2002


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